San Francisco's acting police chief gets personal, talks about recent police shootings

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San Francisco's interim police chief is sharing the story about why he almost didn't become a cop and how he feels about the growing discord from minority communities over police shootings. (AP Photo/Paul Elias)

The Black Lives Matter movement has been in the spotlight at the Republican and Democratic Conventions, both outside and inside. San Francisco's Interim Police Chief Toney Chaplin has very personal experience with both sides of this issue and he offered a different side of himself in an interview with ABC7 News reporter Vic Lee.

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In Part 1 of our sit-down interview with Chief Chaplin, he spoke about his mission to reform the department. In Part 2, he is giving a more personal look including the story about what almost changed the direction of his life.

Chaplin had applied to the CHP in 1989, but a traffic stop in San Jose almost changed his mind.

"The police officer was really disrespectful," he said. "And when I explained to him that I applied to the police department, he kind of flew into a rage and basically stated I'll never make it. Obviously, he was wrong."

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Chaplin's friends believed he was racially profiled. They told him to forget about being a cop.

"You know, they convinced me," he recalled. "My mother was the one who swayed me back into coming into law enforcement."

Chaplin is a 26-year veteran, a street cop who rose through the ranks and now assumes the role of interim chief during a time where there's growing discord from minority communities over police shootings.

"Some of these incidents are troubling," he said. "They are troubling nationwide to look at them. But again, there are also two sides of the story."

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When asked if it is tough being African American and also being police chief, Chaplin said, "It is in a sense of people questioning where your loyalties lie. And my answer is always going to be -- both."

Chaplin says these are challenging times for police, especially in recruiting new officers, when police are being vilified and even assassinated -- especially minority candidates.

"This is probably the time when they're needed the most," he said. "Everyone knows change comes from within and the more people we get in that reflect the community, I think the better off we are as an organization."

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